Summer must be a dog’s favorite time of year – you’re always taking them hiking, hitting the park, strolling the dog beach – but as winter rolls around, you don’t want to be outside for more than it takes to walk from your car to the house.
Unless your dog is a fluffy Husky or St. Bernard, they probably don’t enjoy spending much time outside during the coldest months of the year.
With little space to roam and fewer interesting smells to sniff, the indoors can get pretty boring for your dog. Bored dogs find creative outlets for their energy. Sometimes, these outlets can be destructive. Your dog might turn on your shoe collection, or take out their boredom on a couch cushion.
By providing fun, physically and mentally stimulating indoor activities, you can prevent boredom-related bad behavior or simply enjoy watching your dog learn new skills. You’ll also bond with your dog as you fight your own winter blues.
Take Up Tugging
Tugging is a full body workout for your dog. It only takes a few minutes for your dog to get tired out. Tug does not cause aggression; it’s actually a great way to bond and build your dog’s confidence. Use a long toy to ensure your dog does not accidentally bite your hands. Rope toys are perfect for tugging.
You can set up a Tether Tug outdoors for warm days. If your dog is under 30 pounds, they’ll love the Indoor Tether Tug, which slides under any sturdy piece of furniture.
Try Indoor Nosework
Being stuck indoors is a great excuse to practice nosework with your dog. If you’ve never tried it before, think K9 detection dogs – the ones that sniff out dangerous drugs and explosives.
You can teach your dog to detect samples of essential oils or seasonings from your spice cabinet. All you need are a few cardboard boxes, one loaded with the target scent. Praise and reward your dog when they show interest in the scent.
To make it even simpler, just hide your dog’s favorite treats. Have them stay while they watch you hide the goods, then release them by saying, “Find it!”
You can even take your dog to K9 nosework classes in your area. Your dog doesn’t have to be a hound to participate. All dogs are gifted with an excellent sense of smell. Engaging their primary sense is a powerful way to kill time on a snowy day.
Bowl A Strike
There’s two ways to play bowling with a dog. The first is easier for clever dogs. The second might be best for… others.
Version 1: Teach your dog to nudge a ball to roll it into the “pins.” Start without the pins. Train your dog to roll a ball using shaping. Place the ball in front of your dog, and wait for him to touch it with his nose. Praise and reward your dog the moment his nose touches the ball. Reward your dog every time they touch the ball. Naturally, your dog will start to nose it harder and harder. Then, only reward your dog when they give the ball a spirited push.
Next, set up some bowling pins. You can use some toy pins, or make your own with plastic soda bottles. The 12-ounce bottles work well for small dogs, larger dogs can knock over liter bottles. Set the pins up, then encourage your dog to roll their ball. Praise and reward your dog every time they get closer to successfully bowling a strike.
Version 2: It’s easier to just set up some pins and encourage your dog to run through them to knock them over. You might want to start with one pin to get your dog used to it; they might get scared of the clatter when the pins fall down.
Play Hide And Seek
Hide and seek, for a dog, really just comes down to seek. So far, no dogs have been able to grasp the concept of hiding, besides when they know it’s time for a bath. You’ll always have to be the hider when you play with your dog.
It’s fun to hide behind a door and watch your dog walk by. Start with easy hiding spots so your dog will not get frustrated. Watch as your dog starts to get to know your favorite spots, and looks for you throughout your home.
What’s Your Favorite Winter Game?
We’ve got to be missing a few – tell us in the comments how you and your dog like to spend those cold winter days. We could always use more ideas!